You could say that sweet talking, poetry writing, flower buying, fancy dinners, and romantic strolls all constitute “content marketing strategies” that people have been using for centuries to win over partners and pursue long-term relationships.
Even nonprofits need two to tango, so attracting and engaging the right audience needs website content, blog articles, email marketing campaigns, and social media posts. Content marketing encompasses all of these.
I used to struggle with the inevitable question at social gatherings, “What do you do for a living?” Somehow my answer, “Content Strategist,” didn’t seem to spark the imagination of my audience, most times leaving the conversation flat. As a marketer, my instinct told me I needed to come up with a more engaging response by making people relate to it.
A light bulb went off while watching the movie Hitch. That’s when I realized that just like Will Smith’s character in the film, the content I develop for our clients helps attract and woo the public of their dreams. And just like in real life, while the courting game comes naturally for some, others need a little bit more guidance.
There’s nothing wrong with that—after all, that’s where the Content Strategist, aka the “Dating Coach for Online Audiences,” can come to your aid in developing high-quality content.
People choose to be in relationships because they want to be changed for the better. We seek out and treasure those relationships that lead us to a stronger, more positive and wonderful version of ourselves. This includes relationships we have with organizations, which are powerful shapers of our identities. How you make your supporters feel is the biggest determinant of how they behave towards your nonprofit. If engaging with your nonprofit makes them feel good, they will look for more opportunities to do so. It’s that simple!
One way to build and maintain trust with new, prospective, and current donors is through content published on your website, shared through social media, or distributed through your email list. Take a look at what a Content Strategist does in real life, as outlined below.
What Is a Content Strategy?
The overarching strategy that guides the content you create and publish for your audience is called a content strategy. A content strategy can serve many purposes, including:
- Defining how a nonprofit organization will use content to meet its goals
- Explaining how a nonprofit organization will use content to help users meet their needs
- Setting benchmarks to use for measuring an organization's success
- Guiding decisions about content, from ideation to publishing and beyond.
Without a content strategy, organizations are metaphorically throwing darts at the wall and seeing what sticks without analyzing what is sticking and why.
Hallmarks of an Effective Content Strategy
Here are a few things that indicate signs of an effective content strategy that will help a nonprofit organization reach more people who can help them get closer to their goals.
While a content strategy should not always change, it can be fluid. It should be informed by as much concrete data as the organization can get its hands on but should also leave room for evolution and change. It is fruitless to stick with a content strategy that is clearly not working.
That's why it's crucial to have someone with knowledge about how different pieces of content can work together to reach an overarching goal working on developing and implementing the content strategy.
It's not enough to say "write X piece of content" and call it a day. An effective content strategy will include a process for evaluating content to determine what should stay, what should get deleted, and what can be reworked or repurposed for better outcomes (more below).
Another essential element of an effective content strategy is having clear metrics to gauge what constitutes "good" content. Some examples of metrics for blog posts can include:
- Organic traffic volume
- Bounce rate
- Conversion rate
Which begs the question, "what metrics should we be using to measure the effectiveness of our content strategy?"
That answer will depend on your goals.
For example, suppose your goal is brand awareness. In that case, you may want to pay close attention to metrics like social shares, branded search traffic (i.e., how often people end up on your site after specifically typing your organization's name into a search engine), and backlinks.
Regardless of your specific goals, some standard metrics can tell you whether or not your content is getting through to people.
One is measuring web traffic to determine how many people are coming to your website and which pages get the most traffic. Another is click-through rate (CTR), which tracks where people click on your website.
Content Evaluation Criteria
Content can be subjective. What makes one person laugh could give someone else a headache. This is why having criteria in place to determine your content's effectiveness is critical. There are questions you should ask about every piece of content to determine whether it aligns with your content strategy:
- Does the piece of content support your nonprofit organization's goals and missions?
- Does the content meet the needs of your users?
- Is the content written to reflect how current users, donors, or readers talk about this topic?
- Is the content accessible to audiences who do not have a technical background?
- Does the content help readers understand a particular topic better?
- Is it easy for people to find this piece of content?
Don't automatically throw out content ideas that don't give a solid "yes" as an answer to all these questions. Instead, rework the idea until it does meet these objectives and any additional ones you develop.
Tone and Voice Guidelines
Your content must accurately reflect your organization's personality and style, i.e., your brand's voice.
Your content's voice defines your organization. It stays the same, even as the content topic and medium change.
Your voice needs to be clear and consistent throughout all the content your organization publishes. It should be clear that an email, blog post, and brochure all came from the same organization because the voice matches, even if the topics are different.
Here are some elements of a strong brand voice:
- Distinct from other brands
- Empathetic and trustworthy
- Accessible to a broad audience of non-experts
- Consistent across all mediums and audiences
- Accurate and free of errors
- Reliable and fact-checked
Another way to think about your brand's voice is that it's like your mood. You might feel more serious when talking about one topic and more lighthearted when talking about another. Regardless of the feeling or tone, the voice stays the same.
Why Nonprofits Should Care about Content Strategy
Now for the real question – why should your nonprofit care about developing and implementing a content strategy?
For one thing, having a content strategy will save you a lot of time and resources, which we know are always in short supply for nonprofits.
Instead of taking a haphazard approach and publishing whatever content your team thinks of, you can take a methodical approach that speaks to your audience directly and gives them the information they want.
Additionally, a content strategy can ensure you can get more mileage out of content. For example, you could use one piece of content as an ebook, blog post, email newsletter, and social media post.
Finally, having a content strategy is the only way to know what is and isn't working. That way, you can spend less financial and personnel resources on content that doesn't bring in more supporters and more time creating content that speaks to your audience.
Need Help Developing a Content Strategy? Let's Talk!
A well-thought-out content strategy that includes planned content is crucial for attracting and engaging your supporters.
While you need to recognize the value of developing a content strategy, you don't need to be an expert. Instead, contact our team to hear how a content strategy consultation can help your nonprofit communications.